Wolfram Alpha ▪ May 13

Wolfram Alpha ▪ May 6

applebot

Rumors that Apple might be creating its own search engine started doing the rounds last fall, when webmasters started seeing web crawler visits from IP addresses starting with 17 – the IP address block owned entirely by Apple. Apple has now officially confirmed in a support document that it is operating its own web crawler called Applebot.

Applebot is the web crawler for Apple, used by products including Siri and Spotlight Suggestions. It respects customary robots.txt rules and robots meta tags. It originates in the 17.0.0.0 net block.

While the wording is clearly intended to suggest that this is just business as usual, both the fact that Apple is running its own web crawler at all, and the somewhat vague wording, are interesting …  expand full story

Wolfram Alpha ▪ June 29, 2012

As noted by Phillip Elmer-DeWitt at Fortune, Apple analyst Gene Munster published a note to clients today that contained the results of a Siri vs. Google search 1600-question showdown.

While it is not exactly a test of how well the companies’ various voice services stack up against one another (since Google Search queries were typed-in and not spoken), but it is a good indication of just how viable Siri is as an everyday mobile search product and alternative to Google. In the test, both Google and Siri were asked 800 questions in a quiet location. Another 800 questions were asked among the loud street traffic in Minneapolis. The results, according to Fortune: expand full story

Wolfram Alpha ▪ February 7, 2012

Apple’s digital secretary named Siri, an iPhone 4S exclusive, is now responsible for nearly 25 percent of all searches conducted on Wolfram Alpha, an answer-engine developed by Wolfram Research.

As you know, Apple collaborated with Wolfram Alpha on Siri (Microsoft is another licensee), and took advantage of algorithms powering Mathematica, another Wolfram Research product. It lets users type in complex factual queries, and then Wolfram Alpha computes accurate answers from its structured data containing hundreds of datasets.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based Company fancies Wolfram Alpha’s curated knowledge database, which is a nice fit for the iPhone 4S’s factual question answering feature. According to the New York Times’ Steve Lohr, Siri accounts for a quarter of all Wolfram Alpha queries after four months:

Siri accounts for about a quarter of the queries fielded by Wolfram Alpha, whose staff has grown to 200.

Google should be worried, as this could be another sign of Siri users becoming accustomed to retrieving factual answers from Wolfram Alpha and not Google. For example: Telling Siri to “Google the iPhone” launches Safari with Google search results accompanied by text-based adverts, but just asking “How many days are there until Easter” produces a formatted answer from Wolfram Alpha with no advertising whatsoever. This is also important knowing that a quarter of all searches on mobile devices are conducted through voice commands.

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Wolfram Alpha ▪ December 16, 2011

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